One of my fondest memories is hunting with my Grandpa Starks, his friends, and a few relatives. It was, for me, one of the greatest events in my life when I became of age and was invited to deer hunting camp. Hunting camp was set up on Friday before hunting season and we would camp until the end of hunting season, usually tearing down Sunday night or Monday morning. Deer hunting rifle season started the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ended the following Sunday. We would set up a large military tent and would have cots, a stove, a table and chairs, and it was so great to be included. It really was not about the hunting but about the camaraderie and coming of age.
This being my first year, I was observing, paying attention, and learning what was right to do and wrong to do. I pretty much stayed quiet. Our schedule was to get up early, hunt for a while, come in and have brunch, take a nap or play cards, go back out and hunt, come in and eat, play cards, and go to bed. It was the life 😊! I thought the food was awesome. There was homemade bread, pies, cakes, meat and potatoes… I really did not want to go home.
My grandpa was in charge of the cooking. He did most of the cooking and I thought he was a pretty good cook. We had been in camp for a few days and thus far we had only seen glimpses of deer, so spirits were down a little and there were some ornery and cantankerous folks. We came in for supper and sat down and there was bantering back and forth, and then someone made a comment about the cooking. Then someone else said something and finally my grandpa let out a bellow and had a huge wooden spoon in his hand. “The next time someone says one word about my cooking, they will be cooking the rest of deer camp and I will lay this spoon across their head!” Now I knew you didn’t mess with my grandpa and I was kind of waiting for someone to say something, just for some excitement. But no one even looked up and suddenly it seemed that the supper meal was the best they ever had. Wow! We then played cards and went to bed and that was the end of it. Or so I thought…
The next day came, we got up and hunted, came in for brunch: a meal of bacon, eggs, and potatoes with coffee and milk. It was tasty and no one complained. We rested, played cards, and went back out to hunt. We came in and sat down to eat and there was a huge pot of stew sitting on the table. It smelled really, really good. Well, one of the main complainers from the other day was the first to grab a bowl and ladled the stew in. He started eating, putting a big spoonful in his mouth and… spit it across the table! “Emory (my grandpa), what in the blankety blank is this…?” About that time he realized that he was complaining, and said, “But it’s good though 😊!” I have never seen a group of men laugh so hard (including Grandpa). Grandpa had gone out that afternoon and had gotten weeds, bark, dirt, leaves, and anything else he could find, and made the stew knowing someone would complain. It was precious! Although I never had any of that stew, until the day he passed away, that gentleman said it was the best meal he ever had! (After all of the laughing had ended, Grandpa brought out the other stew he had made, and it was delicious… although no one would have said anything different 😊!)
Several observations from this story. First of all, never assume that what is put before you is good. I think many times our human nature jumps at things that are too good to be true. That is why patience is a virtue.
In addition, sometimes we make mistakes and that is ok. We learn from our mistakes and continue going forward. I love this statement from C.S. Lewis: “A Christian is not a person who never goes wrong, but a person who is enabled to repent and pick themselves up and begin over again after each stumble” (Mere Christianity).
Finally, we can whine and complain when things do not go our way and wallow in being unhappy, but in the end, we will find out that life “is good though”.